A racy pleasure that offers shocking twists and turns.

READ REVIEW

SUGAR BABY

In this debut thriller, a relationship between a billionaire and an alluring, younger woman is consumed by jealousy, sexual obsession, and murder.

Angelica Mercedes desires the finer things in life, and her wealthy parents indulge her every whim—at least, at first. Her intelligence earns her a spot at a prestigious university, where she graduates with honors, but then her father ends his financial support. Angelica takes a job at a strip club, where she meets Hyde Hyatt, a billionaire who’s more than twice her age. They embark on a passionate affair and eventually marry, settling in the town of Full Moon Bay in Northern California and purchasing a beautiful waterfront home. However, two weeks after they move in, the wife of the previous homeowner is found dead, washed up on the beach. About the same time, Hyde’s 23-year-old daughter, Daphne, moves in with the couple. A strange dynamic develops between Hyde, Angelica, and Daphne, fueled, in part, by jealousy; Angelica, who refers to Hyde as “Daddy,” resents his bond with Daphne. As tensions mount, additional murders rattle the community, and the trail of evidence points toward Angelica. Her husband and stepdaughter know that she’s cunning and manipulative, but is she a serial killer? Phelan’s psychological thriller is a flashy, fast-paced tale of eroticism and murder. The author, who also works as a screenwriter, shows a strong sense of pacing; the novel begins with a shocking act of violence and from there, Phelan keeps the momentum going, unspooling a dark, complicated story. She uses a variety of first-person interlocutors to tell it, including Daphne; Hyde’s former wife, Lisa; and Daphne’s fiance, Ken, as well as Angelica and Hyde themselves. An omniscient third-person narrator provides valuable details and context regarding Angelica’s troubled childhood. However, the novel could have used a stronger copy edit to avoid distracting errors, such as “Lu-Lu Lemon” instead of “Lululemon” and “SPEACHLESS” instead of “SPEECHLESS.”

A racy pleasure that offers shocking twists and turns.

Pub Date: July 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4808-6396-5

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2018

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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